Hiking old mining trails a reminder that one person’s trash is another’s artifact

Heading up the trail, relics from the mine began to appear. Rusted-out pipes and cast-off chunks of steel, their purpose left to the imagination, lined the stream bed like a trail of bread crumbs to the mine proper.

The rusted hulks of engines, crushers, corrugated metal and sluice boxes stood like ancient sentries to the entrance of a tunnel into the side of the mountain.

The entrance was bridged by snow and partially caved in. A narrow set of iron tracks, used to ferry material from the depths of the mountain in ore carts, emerged from the tunnel. They lay on the ground, twisted and upheaved, perhaps from the constant weather changes in the high country, or maybe earthquakes.

To the north, on a steep slope of granite, there was weathered chunks of lumber scattered about and a faint trail that zig-zagged to the top of the ridgeline — as good a way as any to climb higher and deeper into the mountains.

There were signs of ptarmigan throughout the area. The hatch wouldn’t have been more than a week old, and the hens stay tucked in in those early days. But the area did show promise.

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